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Undergrad opportunities at Dilmun Hill this summer

2013 Dilmun Hill farmstand and crew

2013 Dilmun Hill farmstand and crew

From Betsy Leonard, Organic Farm Coordinator, Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station (CUAES):

Dilmun Hill, Cornell’s student-managed farm, is looking for undergraduate students to fill two positions this summer:

  • Market Garden Manager – The Market Garden Manager is in charge of the vegetable production and sales at Dilmun Hill. Managers are hired in late winter and are expected to participate in farm operations for the next year and a half. Throughout their term Market Garden Managers perform a wide variety of tasks, with the simultaneous expectation of communicating effectively between the other managers, staff, and the general Dilmun Hill community. Download position description/application.
  • Student Researcher – If you have a cool idea for an agricultural research project you want to conduct at Dilmun Hill, this position is for you. If you don’t know where to start, please ask us and we can help you make connections with faculty. Download position description/application.

Applications are due February 12th. Please download (links above) and submit your application to Betsy Leonard ( by midnight on February 12 2014 to be considered.

NYFVI awards grants worth $1.24 million

nyfvi logoThe New York Farm Viability Institute announced the award of $1.24 million in funding for 18 projects to improve farm profitability and sustainability in New York State.  Funded projects represent a cross section of New York agriculture, including dairy, field crops, apples, vegetables, berries, and Christmas trees. Economic development projects will develop business and marketing plans for farmers, support dairy farmer discussion groups, assist young farmers, and provide support for grower cooperatives.

Some projects of horticultural interest (with project leader and institution) include:

See full list of funded projects.

Mark your calendar for spring forest farming events

Camp Mushroom
April 25 & 26, Arnot Forest, Van Etten, N.Y.

Inoculating logsCamp Mushroom is a unique beginner/intermediate level workshop for those interested in small-scale forest mushroom cultivation. Join Professor Ken Mudge and extension educator Steve Gabriel for a fun and technical presentation of all the latest cultivation strategies and research, much of which has been based at Cornell over the last eight years.

Participants will be trained in three methods of mushroom cultivation; shiitake on bolts, lions mane/oyster on totems, and stropharia in woodchip beds. In addition laying yard and management considerations will be covered. Each participant will also inoculate two shiitake blots to take home.

MacDaniels Nut Grove Open House
May 10, 2014, 1pm – 5pm

Students working in the Nut GroveCome visit the 90+ year old grove planted by Professor Lawrence MacDaniels which features selected hickory and walnut varieties and a full demonstration of forest farming practices including mushroom cultivation, medicinal plants, an ornamental nursery, and fruit production (paw paw and elderberry), and water management techniques including swales and hugelkulture piles. Tours by professor Ken Mudge, who re-discovered the nut grove in 2002, will be offered at 1pm, 2:30pm, and 4pm. Try hands-on inoculation of mushroom logs and see grafting demonstrations. Taste nuts and enjoy an afternoon in the woods, which is adjacent to the East Hill Recreation Trail for longer hikes. Good fun for the whole family.

More information about both events.

Mazourek, Björkman featured in Scientific American

In a feature story, Creating Tastier and Healthier Fruits and Veggies with a Modern Alternative to GMOs, posted online January 23 by Scientific American, author Ferris Jabr explains techniques used by breeders to speed up the breeding process to meet consumer demand for produce that tastes good and is good for you.

Two of the featured researchers are CALS faculty, Michael Mazourek (Plant Breeding and Genetics, Horticulture) and Thomas Björkman (Horticulture):

Michael Mazourek

Michael Mazourek

Mazourek belongs to a new generation of plant breeders who combine traditional farming with rapid genetic analysis to create more flavorful, colorful, shapely and nutritious fruits and vegetables. These modern plant breeders are not genetic engineers; in most cases they do not directly manipulate plant DNA in the lab. Rather, they sequence the genomes of many different kinds of plants to build databases that link various versions of genes—known as alleles—to distinct traits. Then, they peek inside juvenile plants to examine the alleles that are already there before choosing which ones to grow in the field and how best to mate one plant with another. In some cases breeders can even analyze the genetic profiles of individual seeds and subsequently select which to sow and which to disregard, saving them a great deal of time and labor.

Thomas Björkman

Thomas Björkman

Three and a half years ago, Bjorkman, Mark Farnham of the USDA and their many collaborators decided to breed a new kind of broccoli that would thrive in the eastern part of the country. In their lab’s growth chamber Bjorkman and his team have been subjecting broccoli to east coast levels of heat and humidity, keeping seeds only from the plants that grow the most attractive flowering heads under these conditions. Although they have a lot of work ahead of them, they have already bred broccoli that can deal with a few more weeks of summer heat than the cultivars currently grown in the east. Meanwhile, the researchers are searching the genomes of the various plants they grow, looking for genes that explain why some broccoli fares better than others. Finding them could shave years off the journey toward their ideal plant.

Read the whole article.

New publication is comprehensive guide for shiitake mushroom growers

Screen shot 2014-01-17 at 10.57.21 AMVia the Northeast Forest Mushroom Growers Network:

Best Management Practices for Log-Based Shiitake Cultivation in the Northeastern United States is a new guide for growers published by Cornell Cooperative Extension in collaboration with the University of Vermont’s Center for Sustainable Agriculture and a team of farm advisors. The book and related publications are available for free download at:

Shiitakes are the second-most cultivated mushroom variety in the world, and the demand for locally produced, log-grown shiitakes is high among chefs and consumers alike. According to the guide, “Forest cultivation of shiitake mushrooms can generate income, diversify farm and forestry enterprises, add value to forestry by-products and create opportunities for timber stand improvement.”   At publication time, these mushrooms sell for $10-$18 per pound across the Northeast.

The guide is the culmination of a three-year research and education project funded by a grant from USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program. The project was led by Ken Mudge, Department of Horticulture, Cornell University, and included Ben Waterman  and Bridgett Jamison Hilshey  (University of Vermont) and Allen Matthews (Chatham University). The project was informed by the experiences of more than twenty shiitake growers producing for market in the Northeast, led by four farm advisors:  Steve Sierigk, Hawk Meadow Farm, Trumansburg, N.Y., Nick Laskovski, Dana Forest Farm, Waitsfield, Vt., Steve and Julie Rockcastle, of Green Heron Growers, Panama, N.Y. and Steve Gabriel, Wellspring Forest Farm, Mecklenburg, N.Y.

The Northeast Forest Mushroom Growers Network is a resource site for growers of all scales featuring factsheets, videos, a Northeast grower directory and listings of events and classes.

Watkins Appointed Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension

Chris Watkins

Chris Watkins

From Kathryn J. Boor, PhD, The Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences:

Along with Dean Alan Mathios, the Rebecca Q. and James C. Morgan Dean of the College of Human Ecology, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Chris Watkins as Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE). We are very fortunate to have someone of Chris’ caliber seamlessly stepping into this key leadership role, and I am confident that Chris will position CCE for the future by integrating communication and education technologies with the traditional boots-on-the-ground approach that has characterized the legacy of CCE to date.

As director, Chris will run the diverse portfolio of programs of CCE, which maintains a presence in every county in New York State as well as in New York City. As you may know, CCE reaches citizens through outreach in food systems, natural resources, sustainable energy, 4-H youth development, nutrition, economic development, and related subjects.

Chris, who has served as CCE’s Associate Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension and is Herman M. Cohn Professor of Postharvest Science in the Department of Horticulture, will complete the term of Helene Dillard, who recently stepped down to become dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the University of California, Davis. Chris is appointed through October 1, 2017.

Chris joined the Cornell faculty in 1994 as an associate professor of horticulture after more than a decade as a scientist in the Postharvest Science Group of The Horticulture and Food Research Institute in his native New Zealand. He was promoted to full professor in 2004 and has served as the associate director of CCE since 2006. Chris has maintained an active research program on techniques that retain the flavor, texture, and health-related compounds of fruits and vegetables after harvest. An internationally-sought expert on fruit ripening and storage, he and a colleague wrote a Production Guide for Storage of Organic Fruits and Vegetables in 2012.

Chris has received numerous honors, including the Herman M. Cohn Professorship of Horticulture in 2013; delivering the George Goodling Memorial lecture to the State Horticultural Society of Pennsylvania in 2010; the Crystal Apple Award from the Director of the Szczepan Pieniazek Research Institute of Pomology and Floriculture in Skierniewice, Poland, in 2005; and the American Society for Horticultural Science Outstanding Extension Educator Award in 2003.

Please join me in congratulating Chris on this appointment.

See also: Cornell Chronicle article, CALS Notes.

Cornell Small Farms Program Internship

Cornell Small Farms Program logoThe Cornell Small Farms Program is accepting applications for a 2014 Student Intern for summer employment. The application deadline is January 28th, 2014.


The applicant must have strong writing, editing, and organizational skills. Must have some background in farming and an enthusiasm for learning more about small farms in NY. Must be comfortable learning to use computer programs such as WordPress, Constant Contact, Excel, Google Forms, Google Analytics, & Qualtrics Survey Tool. Please note: This position is for a Cornell undergraduate, continuing student.

Major Projects:

  • Farmer Profiles. Complete 4-6 profiles of farmers/educators/researchers that have participated in sustainable agriculture research or sustainable farm energy innovations.
  • Small Farms Update. Compile and publish the Small Farms bimonthly newsletter.
  • Small Farm Quarterly. Provide production assistance for the seasonal Small Farm Quarterly Magazine. This magazine reaches 17,000 readers across the Northeast.
  • Social Media & Communications. Manage Small Farms and Beginning Farmers Facebook & Twitter accounts. Respond to public inquires via phone, email and Small Farms blog.
  • Website Content & Revision. Manage content at and

Special projects:

The 2014 internship may also include production assistance with a new ebook on wholesale markets for the small farmer or other special projects to be announced.

This position is offered at 30 hours/week. Position is based in 15A Plant Science Building on the Cornell University campus. Stipend is $10/hour. Position runs from late May 2014 to late August 2014.

*An additional 8 hours of field work at the Homer C. Thompson Vegetable Research Farm in Freeville, NY may be available to bring the position to full time.

To learn more about the Cornell Small Farms Program, visit

To apply, send short letter of interest, resume, and casual writing sample to Violet Stone at

Video: ‘The People’s Colleges’ book talk

From CornellCast:

Cornell Cooperative Extension director Helene Dillard and Department of Horticulture faculty Scott Peters and Jane Mt. Pleasant discussed Ruby Green Smith’s book “The Peoples Colleges: A History of the New York State Extension Service in Cornell University and the State, 1876-1948” Sept. 26, 2013 as part of the library’s Chats in the Stacks series.

Written more than 60 years ago, the book was re-released by Fall Creek Books in 2013 to celebrate Cornell’s sesquicentennial.

Dillard, Peters and Mt. Pleasant review Smith’s writings, highlighting the impact and significance of the extension mission, critically assessing historic tensions between extension service and New York’s Native American communities, and suggesting lessons for Cooperative Extension’s future in New York State.

Cornell Orchards internships

Internship poster

Click image for poster.

If you’re a Cornell student with an interest in fruit crop production and physiology, a new internship program at Cornell Orchards could be a great career stepping stone.

Internships run May 29 to August 15 and pay pay $11 an hour. Benefits include:

  • Research experience (field and lab)
  • Hands-on field experience (grapes, apples, peaches, berries)
  • Opportunities to interact closely with Cornell pomology faculty
  • Opportunities to interact with local vineyards and orchards

Application deadline is February 14, 2014

Interested? Send resume and names of three references to: Dr. Justine Vanden Heuvel,

Online organic gardening course starts February 24

Raised bed vegetable gardenThe Department of Horticulture’s online Organic Gardening course is designed to help new gardeners get started and help experienced gardeners broaden their understanding of organic techniques for all kinds of gardens.

The course runs February 24 to April 24, and covers one topic during each of the 9 weeks. (See course outline below.) With a strong foundation in soil health and its impact on plant health, we then explore tried-and-true and cutting-edge techniques for all different kinds of garden plants including food plants, trees and shrubs and lawn.

Participants view recorded presentations, read assigned essays and book excerpts, participate in online group discussions with other students, complete reflective writing/design work and take part in some hands-on activities. 
Most students spend 3 to 4 hours each week with the content, though there are always ample resources and opportunity to do more.

Partial scholarships may be available for CCE, Cornell-affiliated people or students in need. Please contact the instructor, Liz Falk, for information:

Course syllabus outline:

  1. Introduction: What is Organic Gardening?
  2. Your Garden Site
  3. Soil, Compost, and Mulch
  4. Managing Pests Organically
  5. Vegetables and Flowers: Planning and Early Season
  6. Vegetables and Flowers: Mid-Season and Harvest
  7. Trees, Shrubs, and Herbaceous Perennials: The Long-Term Landscape
  8. Organic Lawn Care
  9. Advanced Topics for the Adventurous Gardener
More information:
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